By Monica Hesse
Hardcover: 320 pages
Published by: Little, Brown (April 5, 2016)
Grades: 9 Up
An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times
The missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do.
Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.
On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman's frantic plea to find a person--a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.
Meticulously researched, intricately plotted, and beautifully written, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice in historical fiction.
I typically am not the biggest fan of historical books but the blurb about this book made it feel different. It was a mix of YA, history, and mystery and it had me tearing through it. I couldn't get enough of this book.
Girl in the Blue Coat is set in Amsterdam, 1943. The Nazis have invaded and the Jewish population is either in hiding or has been deported. Hanneke is the MC, who has found a way to make a living during these incredibly difficult and trying times. She holds a good paying job, which means she is able to support her parents, but her boss has other jobs that he entrusts her with - locating and delivering items found only on the black market. During one of her regular deliveries, an older lady asks her to complete a very important mission for her - find a young Jewish girl that disappeared from the secret room in her home. Hanneke does not want to get involved with finding a teenager, a Jewish teenager, but ultimately cannot resist the chance to do something to help on a bigger scale. During her investigation, she becomes involved in something much bigger than just her trying to find one teenager, she becomes involved with the Resistance and finally her eyes are open to the true horrors that are taking place all around her.
I was hooked on this story from the first chapter. It did not feel like other historical fiction books, it was not heavy historical facts but more mystery with history woven in. Yes, the author did extensive research before writing the book to ensure a good bit of the story was true, but the rest she admits is fiction. Regardless, the characters are beautifully written and so complex. The intense situations the characters find themselves in felt so real. I could feel the terror and anxiety of the characters and that kept me engrossed in this story. The ending threw me for a loop - I did not see that coming.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book more than I thought I would. I simply had to find out of Hanneke found the Jewish teen and I liked reading about that time in history. I would recommend this to readers looking for a good mystery read with some history mixed in. I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.